Since the foundation survived the fire in good condition, there was only a few fixes that needed to be done. The back part of the existing foundation is being removed and the stones will be saved for a later use. The reason for this is that the orginal house was about 150 years old. Everything constructed in those times was made with careful time and precision and guarenteed to last. Now, many construction companies look for cheap alternatives and move through projects at faster speeds to increase profits. The outcome is a “factory” made house that doesn’t go a few years without some sort of repair. How does this relate to the foundation? Well, there was an addition added onto the back of the house (the part being removed) and it was obvious that the stone mason was not interested in making a wall to last a lifetime. The NEWER wall was falling apart while the OLD one is standing strong. The technique seemed to be, instead of finding the right stone to fit in the courses, he just set stones in bed of mortar.
We cleaned out the debris, scraped the flooring of excess dirt, removed snakes from the walls (there were a few living in there), made a forms for the new concrete slab and bond beam. Many green folks don’t like concrete because of the high amounts of energy it enbodies, but Jeff uses it where he sees fit because it lasts a long time. The basement slab was only about 3 to 4 inches thick and the bond beam a bit is a 4 to 5 inches. The purpose of the bond beam is to seal the stones and provide a nice even surface for laying our block wall. The beam is concrete poured so just like the basement slab, we needed some forms, only this time they were a bit more complicated. We had to make sure the wood was level and screwed to concrete form stakes in the ground. Rebar was cut, bent, and wire together inside for support.
This was the first time I ever helped with a concerte pour and it wasn’t so bad. Its very fast paced because concrete needs to be moved around with rakes, leveled with a screed, and hand troweled in order to move the cream of the concrete to the surface. For the bond beam, we had to transport the concrete from the truck to the site by bucket because the truck couldn’t get in and it was a smaller area to cover. Meanwhile, the farmer’s son and friend were busy cleaning the wall and re-mortaring some parts. A small concrete project which was started at the house a little while ago, was a nice introduction to the larger projects (the children carved their names and put handprints).